Penn State Altoona to exhibit 'Animating Autotheory: Personal Essay Films'

Artwork by John Summerson

“Animating Autotheory: Personal Essay Films,” a body of work by John Summerson, will run Feb. 15 through March 21 in the Sheetz Gallery of the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Credit: John Summerson

ALTOONA, Pa. — “Animating Autotheory: Personal Essay Films,” a body of work by John Summerson, will run from Feb. 15 through March 21 in the Sheetz Gallery of the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Using animation, Summerson unsettles the notion of “telling true stories” by making visible the blurriness and friction between invented images and facts. Combining stop motion, digital and hand-drawn animation with video and experimental reportage practices, his multimedia practice is a site for processing significant personal experiences, such as grief, impermanence and familial relationships. Summerson is currently building a body of research for a new film investigating disability, precarity and the U.S. health care system.

Summerson is an animation artist and educator. Originally from Washington state, he received his bachelor of fine arts in animated arts from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, in 2016 and his master of arts in documentary animation from the Royal College of Art in London in 2020.

Summerson’s work has been exhibited at international film festivals, including in Budapest, Madrid, Berlin, London and New York. His accolades include the Grand Prize at the LG Art of the Pixel competition, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educator’s Forum Scholarship and the Princess Grace Undergraduate Film Scholarship. In his commercial practice as an animation artist and director, he has worked with clients that include Cartoon Network, the Oregon Symphony, LEGO, ViiV and Aesop Rock.

Summerson has taught animation at the undergraduate and master levels, with the Portland Museum of Art, and for a youth detention facility.

He lives in Bellefonte, where he continues his role as the director of animation for the upcoming animated documentary film “Pour the Water as I Leave.”

The galleries are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and during all performances and events. For further information, call the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts at 814-949-5452.

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